Monday, November 2, 2015


Last weekend my husband and I decided to go to see The Martian. I perused the online listings to choose a time and theatre. But it was much more complicated than that!

Did we want to see the movie in regular seats, or go to a VIP theatre? In 3D, AVX or UltraAVX? Dolby Atmos? And what about D-Box? And different theatres had different combinations of all those special technical features. I was faced with a dozen decisions.

Experiments* have shown that offering too many alternatives dampens consumer purchases. That almost happened in our case, as I came close to giving up in frustration. But we finally opted to see the movie in 3D, with AVX, Atmos and D-Box, in a regular, not a VIP, theatre. Found the D-Box seat vibrations somewhat distracting. If they're going to move the seat around I think they need to pick one point of view - the main character. In this movie, mostly we were supposed to feel like Matt Damon, but sometimes they'd jerk the seat when a piece of equipment fell down as if we were that piece of equipment. Not satisfying.

By the way, really liked the movie. Much better than the last space sci-fi movie I saw, Gravity.

*For those not familiar with this famous experiment, here's how Barry Schwartz describes it in The Paradox of Choice. 
When researchers set up [in a gourmet food store] a display featuring a line of exotic, high-quality jams, customers who came by could taste samples, and they were given a coupon for a dollar off if they bought a jar. In one condition of the study, 6 varieties of the jam were available for tasting. In another, 24 varieties were available. In either case, the entire set of 24 varieties was available for purchase. The large array of jams attracted more people to the table than the small array, though in both cases people tasted about the same number of jams on average. When it came to buying, however, a huge difference became evident. Thirty percent of the people exposed to the small array of jams actually bought a jar; only 3 percent of those exposed to the large array of jams did so.

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